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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 35

renkuchainWelcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.

I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.

This may have been our most productive week. We have been gifted with one-hundred-twenty-three offers, from twenty-two poets, including some first time contributors. And we have also benefited from a discussion about kigo that I trust has proven educational for all of us. I must admit that I had the spring kigo “ants emerge” in mind when looking at the offers for verse thirty-four and, as a consequence, I was predisposed to read the verse that I selected as relating to this image. I do see, based upon the subsequent discussion, that a different reading is quite as likely. Live and learn!

There were so many interesting offers this time. I can’t list them all but here is a sample:

blossoms
lying on both sides
of the peace wall

    –Marion Clarke

placing her lei
of dandelions
on the garden gnome

    –Maureen Virchau

Cherry blossoms raise
a ladder of fragrances
from earth to stars

    –Vasile Moldovan

scented soaps for one
who views the blossoms
from her room

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

a single blossom
like a hand print
on the window

    –joel irusta

not yet
brushing blossoms
off the baby’s toes

    –Peg Duthie

not believing
until I stood beneath
the cherry trees

    –Sandra Simpson

at the sawmill
cherry blossoms mix
with sawdust

    –Carole MacRury

first fine day
and already
blossom rain

    –Christopher Patchel

a Burmese harp
tuned to the key
of fallen blossoms

    –Lorin Ford

the sound of oars
as rowers glide among
drifting petals

    –Carmen Sterba

how much further
this fiddlehead
can still unfurl

    –Scott Mason

And poets not yet included in our renku had much to offer:

Yuccas bloom
among broken shards
of glass

    –John Armstrong

blossoms at the gate
so many
I’m shut out

    –Todd Treloar-Rhodes

among dandelions
a wormhole away
China beckons

    –jerry julius

overcome by
the scent of orchids
filling the Town Hall

    –barbara a. taylor

The verse I have selected is one that I see as relating to the nature of kigo. Whether we are writing a blossom verse, a moon verse, or using season words in any of our links, it is important that the thing be itself. The moon should be the moon and be present – the absence of the moon or an idiom in which the word moon does not refer to the moon itself does not manifest the spirit of a kigo. Whatever blossom we have selected is to be the thing itself and not a plastic version.

Juxtaposed with the preceding verse, which features an interface between two communities, the selected verse does its own interior link and shift by presenting first the reproduced image of blossoms and then the original.

And here is the verse you must link to:

cherries in bloom
on the kitchen wallpaper
and outside too

    –Michael Dylan Welch

Our renku concludes with the next verse, the thirty-sixth. This is not an attempt to say “the end.” In fact, it is important that this verse suggest, instead, a sense of onward movement and optimism . Here are the requirements for verse thirty-six:

  • Spring image
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the thirty-fifth verse, and only the thirty-fifth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, November 11, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next (and final) link on Thursday, November 13 here on the blog. There will be a final posting, on November 27, in which I will offer some reflections on our experiment in renku.

What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session

    There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.

    It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.

    Pilgrims’ Stride to Date

      comparing maps
      to the mountain pass–
      pilgrims’ stride

        –John Stevenson

      a sun-warmed stone bridge
      over snowmelt

        –Billie Wilson

      dampened soil
      of seed trays
      in the glasshouse

        –Margaret Beverland

      grandmother’s silverware
      polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

      a sonata
      on the concert Steinway
      played to the moon

        –Lorin Ford

      dragonflies hover
      by the swaying reeds

        –Karen Cesar

      slight hum
      of a drone
      in fog

        –Alice Frampton

      the atmosphere
      thick with teenage pheromones

        –Norman Darlington

      I stumble
      trying to reply
      “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

      thinking of a red wig
      during chemo

        –Asni Amin

      the woodland
      of silent stories
      and shadow

        –Alan Summers

      he makes a wish
      to become real

        –Marion Clarke

      each mirror reflects
      only the cool moon
      rising

        –kris moon

      freshly-caught fish
      sizzles in the pan

        –Aalix Roake

      a wealthy prince
      exiled in Nigeria
      soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

      sugar plum fairy came
      and hit the streets…

        –Jennifer Sutherland

      a milky nimbus
      at dusk
      beneath the cherry tree

        –Scott Mason

      pulling in spring clouds
      with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

      plain truth
      of a skylark’s
      song

        –Stella Pierides

      our yoga instructor
      tells us to breathe

        –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

      smoldering dung cakes
      burning in the blackened pit
      flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

      the family’s grudge
      celebrates a century

        –batsword

      first snowfall
      covering little by little
      all the dirt

        –Vasile Moldovan

      scraping the ice rink
      of blood, sweat and tears

        –Carole MacRury

      the sting
      of a paper cut
      on her tongue

        –Terri French

      used books signed
      for someone special

        –Ellen Grace Olinger

      a large voddy tonny
      for the woman who may be
      his next wife

        –Sandra Simpson

      stirring the crowd
      with the slur of a slur

        –Maureen Virchau

      continents join
      under this moon
      the bones of my head

        –Patrick Sweeney

      the scarecrow reads
      renku to the rabbits

        –joel irusta

      pickled grapes and walnuts
      swaddled in silk
      in my messenger bag

        –Peg Duthie

      no more wet newspapers
      since the online version

        –Carmen Sterba

      a gothic revival
      emerges
      with a single click

        –Marilyn Potter

      ants open a crack between
      their city and ours

        –Mark Harris

      cherries in bloom
      on the kitchen wallpaper
      and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

      This Post Has 159 Comments

      1. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        gathering dust
        from butterfly wings

      2. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        the sound of laughter
        pink in the haze

        – Lorin Ford

      3. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        the sound of laughter
        through the haze

        – Lorin Ford

      4. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        spring grasses
        amongst the graffiti

        – Lorin (channeling Jan Bostok 🙂

      5. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        just one breath
        scatters dandelion seeds

        – Lorin

      6. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        a dandelion’s seed-head
        gone in one puff

        – Lorin

      7. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        heat shimmer rising
        from the port-a-loo

        (well, possibly not. 😉

      8. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        turning over the padi
        a large blue butterfly

        – Sandra Simpson

      9. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        toasting our good fortune
        with cloud-shaped glasses

        – Sandra Simpson

        – Sandra Simpson

      10. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        lying together on the lawn
        we name the clouds

        – Sandra Simpson

        – Sandra Simpson

      11. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        spring lanterns
        light the way home

        – Lorin Ford

      12. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        a whinny and snort
        from the thoroughbred colt

      13. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        one kite soaring
        high above the others

      14. Thank you for your kind words, Marion. It has been a wonderful experience for me, as well. I adore your concept of “listening” to one’s childhood. 🙂
        Yes, many thanks to John Stevenson and to all the talented poets here.

      15. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        one of the seven gods holds
        a red bream under his arm

        –Alan Summers

        n.b. One of the so-called seven gods of good fortune holds a fishing rod and a huge tai under his arm.

        Tai are red bream in Japan.

      16. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        an intrepid pancake
        escapes a shop owner

        –Alan Summers

        n.b.
        A very popular Japanese children’s song is Oyoge! Tai-yaki kun
        (“Swim faster! Young tai-yaki”) is about a pancake that evades a shop owner to go to the sea until it’s caught by a red bream fisherman.

      17. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        fishing for tai
        with a shrimp

        –Alan Summers

        n.b.
        a metaphor for gaining large profit from a very small investment.
        Tai are red bream.

      18. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        the red woman wanting
        of admiration

        –Alan Summers

        In Japan, the word tai is written as akame, or “red woman.”

      19. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        fish islands tighten their flesh
        against the rapid currents

        –Alan Summers

        n.b. A school of red bream is called uojima, or “fish islands”

      20. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        beachcombers lingering
        into sunset

        – Lorin Ford

      21. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        beachcombers linger
        into sunset

        – Lorin Ford

      22. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        a tomato seedling
        defies the last frost

        – Lorin Ford

      23. somehow a stray “S” appeared after my first word
        the 6 November entry — Corrected:

        male anoles duel
        with flashing dewlaps

      24. Previously posted verses rewritten to replace “pony” with “colt”:

        a colt’s whinny
        from across the field

        &

        the colt on its back
        rolling from side to side

      25. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        Who took a bite
        from the mulberry tart?

      26. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        a stroll through pink haze
        to the train station

        – Lorin

      27. Maureen Virchau November 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm

        a pony’s whinny
        from across the field

        Hi Maureen,
        You’ve picked the glaring non-kigo translation from the kigo list. Even Bill Higginson could let a bad translation through the net, it seems. I guess he wasn’t from a horsey background. 🙂

        * colt, pony (wakagoma, late spring).

        In English, foal designates a very young horse, a colt (male) or a filly (female) may be older but still young horses, but a pony is a small horse of any age. The kigo (Japanese) is in reference to young horses, and it’s a late spring kigo, so though I don’t know the Japanese term, my guess would be that it’s the more recently born horses, foals of about 3 or four months old, that are intended, but ‘foal’ would cover any young horse up to a year old… including young ponies. 😉

        – Lorin

      28. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        the swing seat’s underside
        for all to see

      29. daffodils lining a new trail
        towards the final peak

        I too will really miss this renku – my first ever!

        Thank you to John and everyone who participated 🙂

      30. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        my balloon sets sail
        towards the sunset

      31. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        – Michael Dylan Welch

        hope to see the other side
        of my inland sea

        * * *

        The Great Lakes in North America are referred to as inland seas. I live by Lake Michigan. There’s a Wikipedia article and other sources online, if someone would like more information.

      32. cherries in bloom
        on the kitchen wallpaper
        and outside too

        –Michael Dylan Welch

        something pink
        in my gin and bitters

        🙂

        – Lorin

        (Yes, I know it’s not suitable but couldn’t resist in relation to MDW’s subtle and humorous homage to Basho’s ‘blossoms in the soup, salad, everywhere’ haiku.)

      33. Suggestions:
        Curtains, bathroom wall, kitchen wall, chesterfield, Art Deco, furniture, bedroom wall (I think we once had that) . . . Come on, think!
        Sheets, pillow cases, millions of things!

      34. like children with soap bubbles
        this renku has delighted us

        (thank you John Stevenson and ALL the poets who contributed – this renku has been delightful and truly educational for a beginner like me)

      Comments are closed.

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